Last week the Greater South Bend-Mishawaka Association of Realtors upped the number of Listing Photos permitted from 12 to 24. From every Agent I have spoken with since, this step is a welcome development, but what are the implications of having 24 photo slots available for a new Real Estate Listing?
As a Professional Real Estate Photographer & Online Marketeer, here are my 4 cents:
1. What is worse than seeing 12 bad photos for a Listing on the MLS? 24 bad photos!! This development means Agents must start taking Real Estate Photography seriously, otherwise the MLS will be flooded with so many bad photos that it will make it even more difficult for Buyers to find houses that fit their needs.
2. Having more photo slots means there is more opportunity to display imagery other than photographs. Floorplan images are a great example. Floorplans help buyers see themselves in a home. If you want to attract buyers to a Showing, who already think they are suited to your Listing, include a Floorplan.
3. For Agents who are paid-up Showcase Members of Realtor.com, this step makes your life easier… the 24 images you upload to the MLS will now automatically populate your Listing page on Realtor.com, saving you the step of having to add the additional photos to Realtor.com manually. While you can still add one more image to Realtor.com to take advantage of their maximum 25 images, I don’t think this step is worth your valuable time.
4. If you can have 24 images on the MLS, do you still need a Virtual Tour?
YES! Virtual Tours, being external websites accessed via a link in the MLS listing page, have several critical benefits to Listing Agents, including:
- Unlimited Photos. For Larger Listings (> 4000 sq. ft.) having the ability to display more of the Home online is important — for example, a Tour with 50 images for a 6125 sq.ft. Listing.
- Larger Images. The photos on the MLS are tiny (why so?). A tour allows an interested buyer a much better opportunity to experience a home through bigger images, even full-screen images. Compare the MLS sized photos with those available through the Virtual Tours I provide:
- Interactive Floor plans. The ability for a buyer to see what a specific room looks like via a Floorplan. Any interactive element you can provide will also hold a buyer’s attention longer, increasing the chance that they request a Showing of your Listing.
- Off-Line & Off-MLS Marketing. A good Virtual Tour can effectively be a Listing’s own Website.
By including the Tour address: on a flier or a sign-rider (off-line); or in an email, facebook post, tweet or blog post (off-MLS) — this can be a great way to deliver potential buyers to the Tour directly, without having buyers search for the Tour amongst other Listings. Also, a Tour allows you to show buyers the best & most focused online expression of the Listing, far better than an MLS listing page or the listing as seen in one of the major aggregator websites (Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com). A short Tour web address like uTour.it/10482 will work well for all of the above-mentioned marketing needs.
So, what are the next improvements that the LocaL MLS have in mind? Here is my wish-list:
- Larger Photos. The web is unlimited, why do you limit us in this regard?
- PROPERTY DESCRIPTIONS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS IS EASIER FOR POTENTIAL BUYERS TO READ, ESPECIALLY COMBINED WITH ALL THAT REALTOR JARGON THAT BUYERS CAN’T UNDERSTAND?
- Non-descrimination for Apple Mac Users. Currently you can only access the back-end of Greater South Bend-Mishawaka MLS if you use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. This bars Mac users, like myself, from editing and adding photos to the Listing database.